The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has officially got custody of 38 lakes from the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the Forest Department.
With this, all lakes in Bengaluru barring three — Bellandur, Varthur, and Veerasandra — will fall under its purview. The Urban Development Department (UDD) issued an order to the effect on Friday.
Environment groups and residents have, in the past, pointed out that multiple agencies looking after lakes in the city is not only a big hurdle in rejuvenation efforts, but also hinders effective management of the waterbodies. Until now, the onus fell on the shoulders of the BBMP, BDA, the Forest Department, and the Minor Irrigation Department. “The lakes are interlinked and rejuvenation efforts cannot be taken up in isolation. Multiple agencies having custody of lakes even in a particular chain had created havoc and chaos,” said a senior civic official.
Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who also holds charge of Bengaluru Development, recently took the decision to bring all lakes under one agency, a move supported by most of the lake conservation activists as well. “The civic body must have custody of all waterbodies in the city and this is also in spirit of the 74th amendment to the Constitution. This will facilitate citizen participation in its governance,” said V. Ramprasad, convener, Friends of Lakes.
While the Chief Minister is being lauded for his decision, he is effectively only correcting a decision he took during his last stint, activists pointed out. Earlier, most of the 210 city lakes were in the custody of the BBMP. At the time, Mr. Yediyurappa who was then Chief Minister, transferred 100 lakes to the custody of the BDA leaving 110 with the civic body. “The BBMP was cash-strapped and mired in inefficiency, while the BDA had resources. It was thought that the development authority would be able to execute the projects effectively,” a senior Minister in both the governments recalled.
However, the experiment has been a failure. “The BDA has no institutional expertise in lake rejuvenation or maintenance. Moreover, with the failure of Arkavathy Layout and other layouts since then, it found itself in need of funds and saddled with the lakes,” a senior BDA engineer said.
A senior BDA official added: “Even now, we are stuck with not just the biggest lakes, but also the most complex of all lakes in the city — Bellandur and Varthur lakes.” Since the BDA has committed to an action plan and timeline for rejuvenation of the two lakes before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the two lakes will continue with the BDA, a decision the authority is not happy about. As BMRCL is already working on the rejuvenation of Veerasandra Lake, its custody will be with the corporation.
Civic body looks to State govt. for funds
Now that the civic body has been given custody of most of the city’s lakes, it is expected to take up rejuvenation work. However, BBMP is also severely cash-strapped and is looking to the State government for funds. “We do not have enough funds to rejuvenate all these lakes. As has been the case with other lake rejuvenation efforts, we will submit action plans to the State government seeking funds,” said Mohan Krishna, heading the lakes division in BBMP. The government this year allotted ₹317 crore to the BBMP to rejuvenate 19 lakes.
Report on Hulimavu breach
Bengaluru: The three-member technical committee looking into the cause of breach of Hulimavu lake bund on November 24, flooding the surrounding areas, is expected to submit a preliminary report to the State government next week. A PIL filed in this regard will come up for hearing on Tuesday, when the State government may submit the report to the High Court, sources said.
The committee, led by former IISc. professor B.R. Srinivasamurthy, visited the Hulimavu lake area recently. “The preliminary report is expected to reveal findings of the probe on the cause of the bund breach. The committee has also been tasked with recommending measures to avoid such breach of lake bunds and floods in future, which will take further time, sources said.
The police investigation into the cause has also not resulted in a breakthrough and no arrests have been made yet. The civic body and BWSSB have blamed each other for the breach.
But the agencies will have to now carry out a survey of the lake area and secure the boundaries through fencing, before handing over the physical possession of these lakes.
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